Tensions mar Paris protest as rage spreads

By AAP Newswire

Riot police in Paris have used tear gas as they faced off with protesters setting fires amid growing global outrage after the death of an African-American man in police custody in the US.

French protesters took a knee and raised their fists while firefighters struggled to extinguish multiple blazes as a largely peaceful, multiracial demonstration degenerated into scattered tensions.

Several thousand people defied a virus-related ban on protests on Tuesday to pay homage to George Floyd and Adama Traore, a French black man who died in police custody.

Electric scooters and construction barriers went up in flames on the first day French cafes were allowed to open after nearly three months of coronavirus lockdown.

Chanting "I can't breathe", thousands marched peacefully through Sydney, while thousands more demonstrated in the Dutch capital of The Hague and hundreds rallied in Tel Aviv.

Expressions of anger erupted in multiple languages on social networks, with thousands of Swedes joining an online protest and others speaking out under the banner of BlackOutTuesday.

Diplomatic ire percolated too, with the EU's top foreign policy official saying the bloc was "shocked and appalled" by Floyd's death.

Floyd died last week after a police officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.

The death set off protests that spread across America and beyond.

As demonstrations escalated worldwide, solidarity with US protesters increasingly mixed with local worries.

"This happened in the United States, but it happens in France, it happens everywhere," Paris protester Xavier Dintimille said.

While he said police violence seems worse in the US, he added, "all blacks live this to a degree".

Even as US President Donald Trump fanned anger by threatening to send in troops on American protesters, Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau refrained from directly criticising him, and said the protests should force awareness of racism everywhere.

"We all watch in horror and consternation what's going on in the United States," Trudeau said.

"But it is a time for us as Canadians to recognise that we, too, have our challenges, that black Canadians and racialised Canadians face discrimination as a lived reality every single day. There is systemic discrimination in Canada."

More protests in various countries are planned later in the week, including a string of demonstrations in front of US embassies on Saturday.